New Delhi: The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship claims that 65% of India’s population is in the working-age group. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, though, has found that adolescent girls are not included in this percentage.
The NCPCR’s National Colloquium Report, “Vocational & Life Skills Training of Out-of-School Adolescent Girls in the age group 15-18 years” tells a story of gaps that exist in our educational and vocational schemes. For instance, the Right to Education Act ensures compulsory elementary education till the age of 14 years but skill development programmes in India engage teenagers only at the age of 18.
“Herein exists a gap. Teenagers in the 15-18 age group should be mobilised early to prevent wastage in terms of their education and resources. For this, we recommend to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) the need to engage at the right age, extension of WCDs schemes to adolescent girls and formulation of the National Level Life Skill Framework,” said a member of NCPCR’s Education Division Priyank Kanoongo, who headed the National Colloquium Report.
The NCPCR’s recent report also states that 39.4% of adolescent girls in the 15-18 age group are not attending any educational institution, while among boys of the same age, it is 35%.
The report further added, “Out of the total population of 15-18 year old ‘Out of School’ girls, 65% do not attend any educational institution and are either engaged in household activities, dependents or engaged in begging. On the other hand, 33.4% of ‘Out of School’ boys are non-workers.”
The study was undertaken to delve upon and discuss the ways in which vocational, life skill training can be extended to the girls in question. He added, “There is a need to develop Life Skills Curriculum framework at the national level, which can be adopted at the state level as per state-specific requirements. While framing the Curriculum, the life-skills syllabus by NCERT for classes IX-XII should be included. The life skills training may be provided by WCD as a bridge course to the skill development programmes or under independent life skills training programme.”
Some of the immediate steps listed in the report are:
Providing opportunities for transition rather than re-engaging the Out of School Adolescent Girls – As per U-DISE 2015-16, 88.66% girl’s transit to secondary level. The remaining do not continue studies for various reasons. Hence, it is important to target children at the completion of elementary education, so that they can be engaged at an early age. For this, it is recommended that children between 14-18 years of age are not allowed to work in hazardous occupations as specified in the rules. The Ministry of Labour should clarify working conditions of children in non-hazardous occupations through a Standard Operating Procedure.
Redefining entry-level age – The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship needs to redefine the entry level in various vocational training programmes. For this, it is important that the eligibility criterion as per the job roles be laid down considering the kind of work that can be taken up by children after completing 14 years of age.
Engaging at the right age – The Right to Education Act, 2009, ensures compulsory elementary education till the age of 14 years and the skill development programmes in India engage children at the age of 18 years. Hence, it is important to fill this huge gap and children in the age 15-18 years should be mobilized early to prevent wastage in terms of their education and resources.
Extending SABLA Scheme for AGs in the age-group of 15-18 years – Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), ‘SABLA’, aims to empower adolescent girls by improving their nutritional status, providing vocational education, sensitise them regarding health, hygiene, nutrition and re-engaging out-of-school children. The scheme is approved for implementation in the age group of 11-14 years but is silent on the age group of 15-18 years.